The Special Purpose Unit (SPU) that has been set up under the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) has begun the process of selling the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo) assets, including a number of estates.
Conducted under the ‘Sugar Industry Privatisation and Diversification’, the outfit is currently soliciting proposals from companies or persons either individually or as part of a joint venture or consortium “with an interest in the privatisation and/or diversification of Skeldon, Rose Hall, Wales and East Demerara ‘Enmore’ factories.”
The request for letters of interest by the SPU is identified as the first step in the process of finding and shortlisting buyers or investors.
The entity has noted too that in order to increase transparency, it is partnering with a suitably qualified international financial services firm ‘to provide technical and financial advisory support in the process leading to a successful privatisation and diversification of the sugar industry.’
At the time of announcing the creation of the Special Purpose Unit, Finance Minister Winston Jordan had indicated that some $60 million had been set aside to hire an accounting firm in order to lead the divestment process, including updated valuations of the assets.
Those looking to invest in, or purchase any of the assets have a month since the deadline for submission of letters of interest is November.
NICIL has since stressed that it is under no obligation to accept any or all of the letters received.
Included in the more than $6.3 billion supplementary request earlier this year was a sum of $130 million earmarked as a subsidy for contribution to local organisations.
According to the explanatory remarks accompanying the request, the money is “to provide for the establishment of a Special Purpose Unit to manage the reform of the sugar industry.”
According to the Financial Paper, the amount includes provision for employment costs, utilities, professional and legal fees, advertisements, operating supplies furniture and equipment.
“This is a Special Purpose Unit designed purely for what I indicated… the focus of this Unit is privatsiation and divestment of identified assets one of which is Skeldon Estate, that is their top priority,” Minister Jordan had told Parliamentarians at the time.
The Finance Minister told the House that other identified properties will soon be transferred to the Special Purpose Unit for divestment by that outfit.
GuySuCo, he said, will identify the lands or assets to be divested after which it will be transferred to the Special Purpose Unit.
“In other words, we pulling out this whole exercise from GuySuCo so GuySuCo can continue with its operations,” according the Minister Jordan.
The Finance Minister said some $30 million has been set aside for the payment of salaries for the Unit which he expects will be headed by a Director and deputy along with support staff.
As part of the ongoing divestment of the assets belonging to the beleaguered GuySuCo, Minister of State Joseph Harmon, recently announced that Colvin Keith-London has been appointed head of that SPU.
That Unit has been tasked with the divestment of GuySuCo’s assets, inclusive of its lands; and according to Harmon, Keith-London will be based at the Kingston Headquarters of NICIL.
That Unit was first announced by the Agriculture Minister when, in recent months, he presented to the National Assembly a policy paper on the future of the sugar industry.